Johnny Mullan wants to understand why bullying happens and not just in school. Margaret Phillips is troubled by the threat to the Earth environment, and wonders what to do about that. Eddy Li is fascinated by crime of all kinds and wants to be a detective.
Mary McNevin wonders why there are so many different problems, and wants to write songs that will help. When these four meet in their first year at their second-level school Iona College they come to the conclusion that all of the major problems that interest them have a common cause. When they argue their case in a school debate they find themselves opposed by a senior teacher, and are threatened with censorship or expulsion.
They discover that their school is itself divided, and are faced with an important choice. Challenged to abandon their own deepest convictions, Johnny, Margaret, Eddy and Mary stand firm – not knowing how this will affect their friendship and the rest of their lives.